Severe weather can strike rapidly and without warning. Many people know what to do or where to go when severe weather hits at home, but what if you’re out in your car?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests motorists seek shelter immediately under the following conditions:
- A dark or green-colored sky
- A large, dark, low-lying cloud
- Large hail
- A loud roar that sounds like a train
You should not try to outrun a tornado in your car. An EF-1 tornado can push a moving car off the road and an EF-2 tornado can pick a car off the ground.
Do not hide under an overpass. Many people believe this to be a safe place, but winds can actually be worse under the overpass. Flying debris can also make its way through the underpass.
If there are sturdy buildings nearby, you should pull over and go inside to the lowest level without windows.
If there are not any buildings nearby, though, you can still protect yourself. If you spot a tornado, stop your car. If you can safely get lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie as low as possible. Be sure to cover your head with your hands or an object. Move away from your vehicle. Do not hide underneath it, debris could fall on top of it and smash you.
If the roadway is the lowest ground you can get to, though, stay in your vehicle. Put your seatbelt on. Lower your head below the windows. Cover your head with your hands and a blanket if possible.
If your only option is to be outside, avoid areas with many trees. Their branches can be picked up by winds and thrown around. The flatter the area you are in, the less debris the tornado has the ability to pick up.
After the storm has passed and debris has stopped flying around, the Indiana Red Cross suggests that you carefully get up and look around. Check to make sure you are not injured. If there are other motorists near you, check to make sure no one else is injured. If anyone is injured, contact emergency personnel immediately.
If your family members know you’re out on the road, go ahead and call them to let them know you are okay. If your vehicle is inoperable or has been carried away, ask for your family members to pick you up only after the National Weather Service has given the all clear.
Watch for fallen power and gas lines as you make your way to your vehicle. If your vehicle was not damaged, turn your radio to the weather station to get updates of where the storm is and if there are more tornadoes headed your way.
Drive to the nearest shelter if possible and wait until all storms have passed before going home.